It’s not religion we crave, it’s connections
A new study published in the American Sociological Review confirmed something most of us already know: it isn’t theology and spirituality that explains the positive relationship between religion and happiness; it’s the community element.
Our study offers compelling evidence that it is the social aspects of religion rather than theology or spirituality that leads to life satisfaction,” said Chaeyoon Lim, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who led the study.
The benefits of religion (yes, there are some, admittedly) is largely due to the fact human beings are social animals. There’s nothing revolutionary about that statement, and yet it seems to be largely ignored by everyone. Understandably, religionists want to believe the benefits of religion is in the dogma and belief, since these serve as proof, in their eyes, that their religion is something special. In reality, the fact humans are interacting with one another AFTER the pastor finishes his little speech plays a far more important role in the degree of satisfaction of everyone in attendance.
As atheists we’ve been forced to admit we cannot hope to grow as a movement if we ignore the important fact our species is entirely dependent on being social and having a sense of belonging. We were always too afraid of being labeled as a religion to seriously consider organizing ourselves the way religions do, but in so doing we ignore a fundamentally important aspect of ourselves. The good news is no dogma or preaching is necessary. So long as people have a place to regularly meet and be social, the rest takes care of itself.